Note: We're changing up the format a little. Us? Change? Yes! Jon will be providing a short commentary every weekend, followed by his favorite link and a list of recommended viewing. Please do enjoy. Jon?
I first went to Safeco Field in Seattle in 2006. At the time, I had been to very few major-league parks; I'd been to the Metrodome, of course, and the old Kingdome in Seattle (which was, if this is possible, even worse than the Metrodome), and I had been to Miller Park in Milwaukee, which feels like an indoor stadium even if the roof is wide open. It's no surprise, then, that I was totally blown away by Safeco. You can see the game from the concourse! There are a ton of food options from non-concessionaire sources! The stadium's entirely built for baseball!
In the seven years since, Target Field has opened, and I've been to another few parks, all with that same purpose-built feeling. I suppose it's natural, then, that when I went back to Safeco for the first time in seven years, it felt -- there's no other word for it -- middle-aged.
Safeco is still in possession of perhaps the best retractable roof in the majors; the roof was closed last night, but the game still felt outdoors, the exact opposite of the always-inside feeling in Milwaukee. The park also went through a remodel last offseason, moving the fences in, adding an enormous video board in right field, and opening up a closed-off left-field area. It is still a very, very nice place to watch a baseball game, and as a testament, the long-terrible M's drew 23,000 people last night - only two of whom were wearing paper bags on their heads.
Still, though, apart from local seafood chain Ivar's and a local burger place in left field, the food options felt very Metrodome-y (not surprising, as Seattle's concessions are provided by Centerplate, the same vendor used at the Dome.) Porter's BBQ, provider of an unbelievable BBQ hot link pulled pork sandwich, has apparently been replaced by a generic Centerplate version, to my vast disappointment. The newness, at least for me, has worn off, and the park has settled down into "nice" -- not wonderful, not exceptional, not rave-worthy, just nice.
On the one hand, it was disappointing not to be blown away, like I was in 2006. On the other, Target Field would be lucky to being doing so well 14 years after it first opened. Perhaps I'll have to wait another decade or so to really judge last night's trip to Safeco.
Link of the Week: I enjoyed everything about the zany Sabres-Leafs preseason brawl. Sean McIndoe broke the whole thing down at Grantland, and for good measure, imagined what the ensuing NHL disciplinary hearing must have been like.
What to Watch This Weekend
- Indians at Twins (12:05 today, FOX): Texas and Los Angeles start at 11am, Tampa and Toronto at the same time as the Twins; with two games to go, the Rangers, Rays, and Indians are still fighting it out for the final AL playoff spots.
- #6 LSU at #9 Georgia (2:30 today, CBS): There's nothing quite like a struggle for supremacy in SEC country, and this is the conference's best of the weekend, narrowly edging out #21 Ole Miss at #1 Alabama (5:30, ESPN).
- Sunderland vs Liverpool (10:00am Sunday, NBC Sports Network): Dana Wessel says it's the best game of the weekend in the EPL.
- Eagles at Broncos (3:25 Sunday, FOX): Prove to yourself you'll watch any NFL game, even one involving Peyton Manning wiping the floor with Philadelphia.
- New York at Seattle (8:00 Sunday, ESPN): If you're going to watch one MLS game, make it this one, between the two best teams in the league.